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Local and State News

Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 4:20 p.m. MDT


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico work safety regulators have ordered Walmart to close a store in Las Cruces, after four employees tested positive for COVID-19 in the past three weeks. The New Mexico Environment Department said  Saturday the "notice of imminent endangerment" also requires Walmart to test the store's workers for COVID-19 and thoroughly disinfect the building, Walmart spokesman Pedro Mucciolo responded to a request for comment on the state's action with a statement that did not specifically address the New Mexico order. The statement said the company was "taking all measures necessary to safeguard the well-being of those inside our stores, fulfillment centers and distribution centers."


WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — Navajo Nation officials reported 10 additional deaths from COVID-19 as the tribe's sprawling reservation remained under the latest weekend lockdown imposed to combat the coronavirus outbreak. Tribal officials reported 56 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases that increased the total to nearly 8,100. The death toll rose to 396 as of Friday. The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick. The lockdown began Friday night and ends at 5 a.m.  Monday. All businesses on the Navajo Nation are also required to close during the lockdown.  


FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Tribes across the country are wrestling with competing needs, restrictive laws and inadequate staffing as they try to meet a tight federal deadline on spending billions of dollars in virus relief funds. Congress set aside $8 billion for tribes that must be spent by the end of the year and meet strict federal guidelines. Otherwise, the tribes risk having to send it back. Officials on the vast Navajo Nation have received $714 million in aid but approved just $60 million for health care, protective equipment and front-line workers against the virus. Rifts between the tribal government's legislative and executive branches have delayed putting more of the money to use.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — As New Mexico rolled out increased precautions to combat a spike in COVID-19 cases, two rural counties had not had a single confirmed case since the outbreak began. That changed Friday when Mora County reported its first. De Baca County remains at zero. Residents with underlying medical conditions fear their neighbors are using the statistic to lower their guard, gather in groups and go without masks. Others are growing impatient as they're forced to follow health guidelines in a place where the threat hasn't revealed itself. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has cited accelerating rates of infection across large expanses of the state for new restrictions and the rolling back of restaurant reopenings.


RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico group, Cowboys for Trump has been ordered to register as a political committee in the state, and pay $7,600 in fines for not filing expenditure reports. Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver said Friday in a letter to the group's lawyers that if it fails to comply she will refer the matter to the state Ethics Commission for civil enforcement of the fine, Cowboys for Trump has protested the requirements because it argues campaign finance laws violate free speech, and the group doesn't meet the definition of a political committee. 


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The famed Santa Fe Opera is offering a series of virtual performances after being forced to cancel the 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Saturday night events are meant to celebrate the five originally-scheduled operas that would have been performed this summer, including the world premiere of Huang Ruo and David Henry Hwang's M. Butterfly. The opera's general director says the message is simple: Dress up, pop the cork and join in from home. He hopes the digital initiative can bring some joy in what has been a trying time. The opera is facing a $10 million loss in revenue. 


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico state representative has resigned from the Legislature, citing financial burdens caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Democratic Rep. Linda Trujillo submitted her resignation Thursday to the secretary of state's office after having won election to the House in 2016. Trujillo has been working as an attorney in Albuquerque but said she had to cut back her hours by 25% because of her commitment to the Legislature. Trujillo was set to be unopposed in the fall election. The Santa Fe County Commission will appoint Trujillo's immediate successor, and a Democratic Party committee will choose a nominee to replace her on the ballot.


TSAILE, Ariz. (AP) — A college on the Navajo Nation plans to offer nearly all of its courses online this fall and says it is instituting safety and technology measures to help students succeed during the coronavirus pandemic. Dine College officials said all but 10 of its planned 358 courses will be offered online and that its preparations include a $6.4 million technology upgrade and development of a laptop loan program. College President Charles Roessel said on-campus safety measures include new signage encouraging social distancing and installation of plexiglas barriers in offices and classrooms to block transmission of COVID-19.